Captain’s Chair Leg Raises

Aye aye, Captain! It’s time to take your ship and get the ab workout you’ve always wanted. Your washboard abs await!

Taking a seat sounds easy, but there’s nothing comfortable about this captain’s chair. This exercise is almost brutal in its intensity, but for that brutality you’ll be handsomely rewarded with incredible core strength.

Hang it up

Captain’s Chair Leg Raises involve suspending your body from a high workout bench and contracting the abs to lift the legs. This exercise goes by many other names, including:

  • Hanging Chair Leg Raises
  • Vertical Crunches
  • Roman Chair Raises
  • Hanging Knee Raises

All of these are the same exercise!

In order to accomplish this exercise, you’ll need a gym workstation with a frame that will support your body weight while you hang from it. Forearms are flat on platforms on either side of the body. This hanging position is what makes this exercise so unique and powerful.

Wide Range of Targets

The captain’s chair leg raise doesn’t just target one area of the body, it’s got a wide target range that includes the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and external obliques. Lower back muscles are engaged as well. 

This is a functional style of exercise, as it trains many of the muscles that you’ll use in your day to day life to do everything from carrying the groceries to cleaning out the gutters. That kind of wide range of targets is what makes the captain’s chair leg raise so special.

Raise Those Legs

To perform the captain’s chair leg raise, start by standing in the frame of the workout equipment. If there are handles, grab onto them as you rest your forearms on the arms of the workout chair.

Inhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles to get your body ready for the intensity of the leg lift. 

Bend your knees to the waist, but no higher. 

With control, lower the legs back to the starting position as you exhale. 

That entire sequence is one rep. Continue on for ten total reps.

Variations on the Hot Seat

There are many variations on Captain’s Chair Leg Raises. These include Pull Up Leg Lifts, where you use a pull-up bar instead of a chair frame to add intensity and upper body strength. Other variations are the Captain’s Chair Twist, where the torso twists as it lifts, and the Captain’s Chair Kick, where a flutter kick is added with one or both legs at the high point of the exercise. Finally, the Straight Leg Left involves keeping the legs straight instead of with knees bent as they are lifted. 

Additionally, weights can be added to the ankles to increase the pull and add a bigger challenge to this exercise. 

Origin of the Captain’s Chair Leg Raise

Tracing back to the strength building communities of the early twentieth century, the Captain’s Chair Leg Raise has been modified and expanded on in the last one hundred years. What’s stayed the same is the voracity with which this exercise shapes the midsection. 

For a holistic exercise that will target the entire core, the Captain’s Chair Leg Raise is a perfect solution with enough variations to continue to challenge even the most devoted fitness enthusiast.

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